KALAMAZOO (WWJ/AP) – A southwestern Michigan sheriff’s deputy who said a sergeant videotaped her while she was in a private office pumping breast milk for her newborn is expected to get a $200,000 settlement.
The Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a payment of about $130,000 to the employee and her spouse, plus $69,000 in attorney fees. No charges were filed in the case, but lawyers on both sides met with a mediator and agreed to the settlement.
The woman and her spouse claimed her privacy was invaded and that she was subjected to a hostile work environment, Mlive.com reported. The county and the sheriff’s department have denied those claims.
Thom Canny, the county’s corporation counsel, declined to identify the employee or her position with the county. A request in December for a special prosecutor to review whether criminal charges are merited in the case identified her as a deputy.
Canny said the sergeant involved, who has since resigned from the sheriff’s office, “contends it was an accidental taping.” Neither the sergeant nor anyone else in the sheriff’s office viewed the videotape, he said.
The settlement aims to protect the woman’s privacy. As part of the agreement, she also will get eight lost days of sick time and the sheriff’s office will have to provide a comfortable, private area for women to nurse — regardless of whether they are employees, Canny said.
Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller has denied that the woman’s privacy was invaded. Fuller has agreed to schedule employee training on sexual harassment issues, something that was already was in the works before the deputy’s case arose, Canny said.
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